BY: RHIANN MOORE
For decades most of the world has been reliant on coal for the production of electricity, and despite widespread knowledge of the damage that coal does to the air it is still in use today. Countries like Canada and the United States have long since taken steps to minimize the use: coal is only commonly used in the West of Canada while Ontario ceased the use of coal completely in 2014. Obama successfully dropped coal use to a record low of 34% in 2015, which initially posed a positive outlook for the future and the world’s ability to contain the damage of climate change. Unfortunately, now Trump’s administration seems hell-bent on making good on his campaign promises and tearing down Obama’s inspiring work. Although he has not yet, the new President Trump could still pull out of the Paris Agreement, or, do a lot of damage from within. He’s promised constantly to scrap Obama’s climate policy and take the cap off carbon pollution from power plants causing immense destruction to the earth.
But what is it that will actually happen with continued abuse of coal-fired plants?
To be clear, we would notice the change. Coal is a massive and uncontrollable threat, one 150-megawatt coal-fired power plant is capable of producing more than a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. To put that in perspective, it’s the same as approximately 200,000 cars.
Burning coal also produces mass quantities of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Particulate matter being a toxic substance that causes breathing and respiratory problems, irritation, inflammation, damage to the lungs and premature death. So, essentially, our air will become poisonous. While that is serious enough keep in mind that sulphur dioxide in the air creates literal acid rain.
So, yes, it’s crucial for those in government to continue the good work that only just recently got its momentum. China very recently had to halt production on coal-fired power plants in 15 regions as a response to the 8 continuous days of thick, light-blocking, particulate smog that coated Bejing in early January. This is literal and indisputable proof of the horrific damage that coal burning can cause. Yet Trump continues to promote his desire to reopen plants and revive the “hurting” coal industry.
While those currently leading the United States prefer to bury their heads in the sand and preach ignorance, it is as crucial today as it has ever been to stay informed. As long as individuals around the world strive to remain educated and strive to make the world a better place then we can continue to thrive. There are countries all over the world, Canada included, that are taking active steps and who do not see climate change as a hoax or a joke. So, stay informed, get involved in environmental action groups and do not let anyone tell you that scientific facts are lies (sorry, they’re called alternative facts now, right?).